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Cars are Freedom, How Can We Help?

There are two articles over on Parknews.biz that caught my eye this morning. One has to do with “Parking Hunger Games,” the difficulty of finding on street parking in New York City, and the other commenting on how people are buying cars like mad so they will have a way to get back the freedom that has been taken away from us by our government. If I can’t safely ride a bus or subway, if I can’t go to the mall or movies, if I can’t go out to dinner, at least I can hop in my car and get away from the lock down at home.

As I have noted here before, people are buying cars like mad. Car ownership is up 30 to 50% in New York and those cars have to go somewhere. Parking reservation firms like SpotHero are seeing 100% increases in their traffic and according to the article in the New York Times, people are spending hours looking for places to park, and often ending up in fisticuffs over a space.

It seems that in addition to looking for a way to get around rather than taking a bus, train, or Uber, folks are simply looking for changes that they formerly found in nearby clubs, theaters and restaurants. Hop in the car and get the feel of the open road. Visit a park. Go on a picnic. Just go.

The City Dads and Moms in the Big Apple, in their finite wisdom, seem to have decided to do nothing. After all, their goal is to get cars out of the city and if there is no place to park them, that is all the better. Their constituents, however, see it differently. The city is becoming uninhabitable, and they are looking for the freedom offered by a personally owned vehicle. The irresistible force has met the immovable object and something is going to give.

Whereas many cities actually protect that resource called “parking”, New York has decided to do little about the problem. Residential permit programs, routine in most cities, are basically nonexistent there. Instead of looking for ways to provide more parking, the city is removing on street ‘free’ parking with bike lanes, reserved spaces for car sharing, and even street closures to make an area more ‘pedestrian friendly.’

A small $30 monthly fee to park in the city’s 3 million on street spaces would generate over a billion dollars a year. Think what that kind of money could do in helping alleviate parking issues. Don Shoup call your office.

In many cities the private and public sector work together to find ways of solving this car storage problem. However the car has become anathema to governments in cities like New York, San Francisco, Portland, Los Angeles and others.

Trying to get people out of their cars doesn’t seem to be working, in fact, the contrary seems to be taking hold. All the hubbub about getting cars out of cities to make them more ‘livable’ doesn’t seem to be actually having any affect in the neighborhoods where people live.

Maybe its time we ask a few hard questions:

As an industry, just what are we doing to help alleviate this problem?

Is it not time to offer different and thoughtful solutions rather than simply opening our garages and hoping for the best?

Is climbing on the ‘mobility’ bandwagon really helping?

Since parking space isn’t often available within walking distance of a residence, are we looking to offer last mile alternatives that work for families with kids, shoppers with groceries, and in inclement weather?

People are willing to buy cars to provide themselves the freedom that is being taken away by government edict, are we, as an industry, moving in to provide the parking tools needed?

Think about it.

JVH

H/T Astrid at parknews and John Hammerschlag

 

 

 

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